x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Maid smiles as convicted of colleague's murder, Dubai court gives death sentence

A housemaid so enraged at being called 'crazy' by her colleagues that she stabbed one of them 35 times with a kitchen knife and then stabbed herself to make it look as if she was defending herself has been sentenced to death.

DUBAI // A housemaid so enraged at being called "crazy" by her colleagues that she stabbed one of them 35 times with a kitchen knife was yesterday sentenced to death.

FY, 28, from Ethiopia, smiled as the Criminal Court announced that she was guilty of the premeditated murder of her fellow maid, Hana Shamso, in the laundry room of the villa where they both worked.

Police broke into the room to find Shamso on her back in a pool of blood, having been stabbed repeatedly in the face, neck and chest, while her attacker was sat nearby, bleeding heavily with a meat skewer embedded in her neck. Investigators realised later that the surviving maid had stabbed herself with the meat skewer to make it look as though she was defending herself.

Prosecutors told the court that the maid had planned the murder, smuggling the knife into the laundry room on the morning of July 9 last year as she waited for Shamso to walk in. When she did so, the maid locked the door and attacked her.

Another maid who worked at the villa in Al Bidaa, AB, from Indonesia, was awoken by her colleagues' screams and ran to the kitchen to inform the household's cooks.

The cooks rushed to the laundry room to investigate.

"We banged on the door and asked the woman to open up but they didn't," recalled one of the cooks, from India, adding that he and his co-workers tried in vain to unlock the door.

Ten minutes later, the laundry room fell silent. One of the cooks climbed a ladder to peak through the vent. He saw blood in the sink and called police.

The room remained silent for the next 40 minutes while the police arrived. Officers broke the door open and found Shamso lying in the pool of blood with a knife next to her.

The surviving maid was rushed to hospital. A Yemeni paramedic recalled that when the maid removed the meat skewer from her own neck shortly after arriving at the Accident and Emergency department.

Hospital psychiatrists found the maid to be mentally fit.

Investigators could initially find no motive for the murder, which was made more baffling because 10 of their fellow household workers testified that the two women had no history of fighting.

The surviving maid arrived in the country about five months before the murder, while her victim had been working at the house for three years and had helped her to settle in, often allowing her to use her mobile phone to call family in Ethiopia.

Police said the maid confessed to the murder when she was arrested, saying she was upset at being described as "crazy" by her co-workers. She said that shortly after she arrived in the country she heard some of the Indian maids and cooks use a Hindi word to describe her. She asked a fellow Ethiopian and was told the word meant "crazy". She blamed her victim for starting off the insult.

The verdict is subject to appeal within 15 days.

The maid has also been referred to the Misdemeanours Court on a charge of attempted suicide.

salamir@thenational.ae